|Jill and the Giant
Author: Sera Notte PM
When Jillian Mathis is informed of her impending engagement, she is determined to change her fate. The way to change her father's mind is to get the Oracle, a mythical giantess, to pronounce a better match. With her childhood friend at her side and a stubbornness to rival a mule, she will travel North to find a better match. Updated and tweaked weekly.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Friendship - Chapters: 10 - Words: 30,629 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 03-05-13 - Published: 12-31-12 - id: 3087894
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The beginning of obedience...
Jill awoke to the sound of horses trampling the ground. She rolled away from the sounds until she could find her feet and, still blurry eyed, she continued moving until the table stopped her. Jill fell back on her haunches and grasped at her knee, the pain radiating up quickly to clear her head.
"You are certainly a talented one," said a laughing feminine voice behind her. MacBeth lit a candle, revealing the small tent they were in. Jill turned to face the woman with a scowl before she remembered her state of undress. MacBeth set the candle on the old wooden table that Jill had crashed into just moments before.
"It's not funny," Jill said angrily, she jumped to her feet again, a few twigs sticking to her nightgown. MacBeth leaned back and looked at the disheveled girl in front of her, an eye brow rose slowly. "It isn't," Jill repeated defiantly.
"Just because you decided to crash into my table and it refused to help, you think I shouldn't find it funny when you're crying over a scraped knee," MacBeth asked, her tone mock serious. Jill glowered and turned back to her pallet on the ground. Jill's foot flashed out and kicked the bedding over, a tiny cloud of dust floating around it. MacBeth reached out and smacked the back of the girl's head. "Don't treat my things so badly when it's your own issue that's the problem," MacBeth gripped Jill's shoulder and spun her around, ducking to look in her green-gold eyes, "I understand that the situation isn't to your liking, girl, but you just need to get over it," Jill looked away, her scowl deepening. MacBeth shoved her to the disrupted bedding, "Pick that mess up, the sun will be rising soon and we have work to do before then," MacBeth turned to slip on a warmer shirt over the one she used for sleeping. "Ah, before I forget," MacBeth said with a smile, "Your name from now on will be Fae, got it?" MacBeth looked sternly to Jill who had managed to change into a too-big pair of pants and a warm shirt quicker than MacBeth had expected. Jill glared but said nothing, instead choosing to leave the tent.
"Fae," yelled someone from across the camp as soon as Jill stepped outside the tent. She fumed and ignored the call, walking stubbornly to where the small fire burned quietly to itself. "Fae," the call came again, more urgent than before and louder. Jill stared resolutely at the remains of the fire and crouched in front of it. "Fae," the voice was right behind her now and it sounded a little breathy. Jill twirled to face the bearer of the voice, expecting to see a well-meaning but stupid member of the party.
"What do you want and why are you calling me Fae," Jill asked irately. The woman behind her was not nice-looking at all. She was tall and muscled in a way that spoke of hard labor; she was also carrying a spear with a hook in the opposite end. The woman crossed her arms and grinned maliciously.
"So I see that you think you can just waltz in here and be queen of the wood because Beth's nice to you, eh," the woman asked in a surprisingly light voice, "You think that it's ok not to answer when a senior member of the group calls you?" Jill stared at her in shock, her mouth gaping open and her hands moved to close behind her back. The woman towered over Jill and stepped closer to impress her point, "I want you to know that we will work you into mush if you don't learn. We will also happily eat you to take a break from the fish and-"
"Don't scare poor Fae right now, Jess," MacBeth interuppted as she stepped out of the tent, her clothes neat, "You have something more fun to catch than a girl's heart today, I think." MacBeth stepped to the woman and patted her shoulder lightly. The spear woman stepped away with an insincere smile.
"You are correct, Milady," Jess said with a formal bow, "I shall take my people and go." With a nod from MacBeth, Jess was gone along with a mass of shadows that had surrounded the fire to silently watch the proceedings. Jill looked around in shock at the new lightness.
"What was all that about," Jill asked, pulling herself back to reality, "And why was she calling me?" MacBeth stared sternly at the girl and then shook her head.
"I'll tell you later, but right now, the winds are coming and you need to sit and listen," MacBeth said, her eyes closing gently, "I know you saw me last time, but now you get to be up close, so see what you can do. Just be careful not to harm any of them." MacBeth moved a little ways away from the camp, facing into the darkness around them. Jill looked around as the wind picked up, leaves rustling all around.
Jill opened her mouth to ask another question, but a large stray leaf from far lands smacked into her mouth, almost knocking her back with the force of the wind it rode. MacBeth laughed and turned in a slow circle, her hands fluttering in the wind as she spun. Jill ripped the leaf from her mouth but found that she didn't want to say anything just yet. Jill tried to understand what was going on but all she could see from the fireside was a small dust storm kicking up at MacBeth's feet. She turned her attention to the leaf, deciding to examine it to try and figure out where it came from. As soon as she looked to it, though, the wind ripped it away and she heard a light laugh coming from just in front of her where the leaf danced.
"Give it back," Jill whined, jumping and grasping at the leaf. The wispy laugher increased and came from all around her. Jill flinched back then looked around her angrily, there was no one there. All she saw was darkness and MacBeth.
"They say that they'll get you a prettier one later, when you can hear them," MacBeth said quietly. The wind quieted around Jill and everything was suddenly calm. Jill looked around in confusion.
"Where'd they go," she asked, looking to the woman behind her.
"They left to find some things I asked for," MacBeth responded, "These ones run errands for me as long as they can create gusts and harsh winds to get where they need to be. Sometimes they bring more than information back, like that Maple leaf they used to silence you." MacBeth smiled widely. "Now, however, we have work to do," Jill opened her mouth to talk but MacBeth silenced her with a wave of her hand, "Fae, we are going to collect firewood and, once we get out of camp, you may ask me any question you like." Jill, satisfied, followed MacBeth back into their tent and watched her pull some weapons out of a trunk that sat by MacBeth's bed. Jill was given a short knife and a cloak.
"What do I need the cloak for? It's still hot during the day," Jill asked petulantly. She tried the pull it off and failed, looking at the clasp in confusion.
"This will make sure that you don't run away and that you won't speak too loudly," MacBeth said as they exited the tent, "We are also in charge of hunting up breakfast for whoever is in camp each morning, so stealth to some degree is required."
"Why don't we just grab some eggs and kill a bird or two," Jill asked, her voice quieter than she had intended. She rubbed at her throat worriedly.
"We can't do that, dear Fae," MacBeth said, turning to face her, "Because these birds not only like to fight, but they also serve as an alarm for us all. Haven't you noticed how rarely you see my people walking around at night? Actually, never mind, you weren't here long enough for the guard's rounds to become known to you." MacBeth turned again and walked into the woods, the leaves and branches swallowing her form. Jill trudged after her, the girl's mind whirling with what she could do to escape. Before she could act on any of these things, however, MacBeth was waiting with a smile just beyond the bushes. Jill smiled back and then decided that the best thing to try would be to cut the cape off while asking questions to keep her captor busy.
"Why did you look so pretty the last time I saw you with the wind spirits," Jill asked, her curiosity taking hold on her small, strangled voice.
"That was from the water they brought back that reflected the light. They tend to do that in order to make me look like I used to before things got bad," MacBeth said as she checked some small ground traps. The tiny animals went into a bag on her hip and then the traps were reset.
"So you looked like that before," Jill asked, surprised that she could be anything but grumpy at this hour and without food, on top of it.
"Yes, when I was the official Queen," MacBeth said. Jill waited for more but the woman said nothing else.
"So you weren't lying," Jill asked tentatively, "When you said you were queen?"
"No," MacBeth said, her voice showing exhaustion already as the woman turned to face her. Her face was lined and sad, "I don't lie unless there is extreme need and here, in the woods," MacBeth gestured around them, "There is no need at all to lie."
"Then what happened to Hunter and why were we taken," Jill asked in a rush. MacBeth smiled and shook her head again.
"Give me the knife for a minute," She said, reaching her hand out for the knife. Jill hesitated, looking at the thing that could set her free. MacBeth snatched it away and then pressed the point up under Jill's jaw. "Hunter, for now, is beyond your reach," MacBeth said harshly, "And just because I don't lie often doesn't mean I need to tell you everything. In fact, you should be thanking me," MacBeth said, removing the knife.
"Why in the world would I thank you," Jill asked angrily.
"If I had let you on your merry way, you would have been found by the search party and been taken home. Didn't you say that you wanted to find the Oracle so she could let you stay with your parents and not get married," MacBeth asked innocently. Jill looked away, her face stone. "It's ok, you don't have to thank me right now," MacBeth said. With a flick of her wrist, the knife was back in Jill's hands and MacBeth was walking away. Jill looked dazedly at the blade then put it away. She had work to do if she was going to be able to get to Hunter before something bad happened to him. Jill hurried after MacBeth, stopping only occasionally to pick mushrooms or small plants and berried. She would do her best.
Hunter was wandering in the dark around Boss' cabin when the man found him.
"What a lovely morning, Hunter," Boss said jovially, "If I had known how eager you were to start your training, I would've gotten up earlier myself." Boss patted him roughly on the back, knocking him forward. Hunter shook his head and looked around himself. They were in the woods before sunrise and he wasn't wearing shoes or overly warm clothes.
"What's going on," he asked groggily. Boss took a deep breath, holding it in before letting it out in a whoosh.
"We are beginning our morning run, my boy," Boss said heartily, stretching his arms and legs, "And it has been years since I had so enthusiastic a partner." It was at this point that Hunter noticed the rope tied around both their waists.
"Then why are we tied together," Hunter asked, hoping his fear would be left hidden. His voice was steadier than he had hoped for.
"We are tied together, Hunter," Boss said as he faced the teen behind him, "Because you have to learn to keep up with me at the very least and this is the best way to start." Hunter stared incredulously at the rope.
"And this is the best way," He asked, disbelief heavy in his tone.
"Yes, it is," Boss said, looking to the sky. The leaves rustled strangely and Boss took another deep breath, "Time to go." Boss started with a brisk jog, which was closer to an awkwardly slow run for Hunter. It would've been easy, except that this jog lasted for over an hour. The sun was up by the time Boss decided to stop dragging Hunter and have a drink.
Hunter collapsed next to the stream Boss had stopped at. He panted and crawled closer to the bank, looking in at the glistening water.
"This, boy," Boss began, "Is the very end of the Charne River. It flows from the Oracle's mountains and sometimes helps make seeing easier. I however, want you to bathe quickly before we get to work." Boss smiled and untied the rope around his torso before disappearing into the trees with a light step. Hunter, feeling too tired to even try standing, just scrabbled in. The water was icy, even with the distance from its origin and Hunter was alert instantly. Boss laughed boisterously behind him and Hunter was able to swirl in time to see the man step close, lift him up by the rope, and toss him into the deep middle of the icy Charne. Hunter burst out of the water, sputtering and shaking as water ran down his face.
"W-why," Hunter asked, his feet being numbed. He was beginning to lose his balance and flung his arms out to try and steady himself. Boss was laughing hysterically on the side of the river, to the point where he was sitting and batting at rocks..
"So you'd," Boss gasped for air, "So you'd be more able to sense the land and warmth now." Hunter climbed out of the frigid stream. The ground and air outside were now incredibly warm and he felt almost rejuvenated.
"Wow," Hunter gasped. Then a strong wind raced along the river, wrapping him in an icy cocoon. He hissed and wrapped his arms around his shoulders.
"No time for dawdling," Boss said as he replaced the rope on himself, "It's time to head back so you can begin strengthening your arms and back." With those words, Boss took off at a run. Hunter was sprinting now, trying to keep up without being dragged again.
This trip was much faster than the previous and Hunter wasn't sure if the burning in his muscles was from the run or from the wind that whipped at him like an angry man. When they got back to the cabin, there was a horse waiting outside of it and the door was open.
"Go cut wood until this stranger leaves," Boss said, dropping the ropes by the door. Hunter, still out of breath, nodded and moved around the cabin to the giant wood pile. He had put a small dent in the mass last night, but he had picked the softest woods he could find and now all he had to pick from where the hardest bits. The first wood he cut splintered and burst, like it had been cut at an angle from the tree and Hunter got to deal with the mistake of that other wood-gatherer. Some of the other logs he cut were the same, but he figured something out. Hunter began hitting those lightly colored logs at a shallow angle compared to the other logs. By the time he could hear yelling from the cabin, he had figured out how to cleanly cut the tricky wood.
Hunter made his way to the door, stacking the irritating uneven logs in a way that would make carrying them inside easier. When he returned with a second armload the door seemed to shatter and a very irate man came through the doorway.
"You promised me a girl, Trader," Yelled the vibrating man. His words seemed to have a physical effect on the surroundings, "Not only did you not get me a girl, but you're not giving me my property either," the raging man yelled at the house. The beams were squirming and Hunter didn't know what to stare at. Boss came through the entry and glared first at Hunter then to the fuming man.
"I understand your frustration," Boss began in a soothing tone.
"No you don't, you stupid oaf," the man shrieked, "She was going to be the key ingredient for my experiment and you've ruined it! You've ruined it all!" The man hopped easily onto his horse, preparing it to leave.
"Don't worry, I'll find a girl next time," Boss said solemnly, "The boy here is what I needed to deal with any girl I get for you in case there is time between my acquisition and your arrival." The man's face was bright red and his horse was stamping uneasily.
"Fine," he ground out, "You have one more chance, Trader, but if you fail me once more, I will bring your precious hills down on your head!" With those words, the Horseman leaned heavily on his mount and they disappeared into the hills. Hunter stood watching, his mouth agape.
"Well," Boss said, turning to face the boy, "What are you waiting for? Get that wood inside." Boss disappeared into the cabin. Hunter fumbled the wood he was holding and had to pick it all up again before moving it inside.
"What did you mean that I'm going to help you hold a girl against her will," Hunter asked as he entered and set the wood next to the fireplace where the wood from before had sat. "Who are you really, anyways," Hunter asked as he spotted Boss in the kitchen, pacing slowly.
"I might tell you later, when I feel your training has been enough to prevent you from leaving, but for now, bring the rest of the wood and I will bring lunch," Boss turned away and a door closed between him and Hunter. Hunter, confused, turned to do as he was told, but upon finding the pile he had originally placed beside the door, he kicked at it instead. He hurt all over and he was afraid, on top of being alone. He picked up one of the logs and hurled it back at the axe. He carried the rest inside only because he knew that he wouldn't have a choice if he decided to go against Boss, and a choice was still better than nothing. Boss emerged from the kitchen with a tray which he set on the table in front of the fire place. He then went to the door less entry way and waved his hand. The door seemed to materialize from the bottom up and Hunter stared again. He must be dealing with magical people, for their voices and hands to be able to do so much with so little apparent effort. Hunter dropped his head between his knees and waited. The food would be poisoned without a doubt and he couldn't risk getting hurt in this suddenly very dangerous cabin.
Thank you for reading this far. Please review if you have the time and feel free to make suggestions.
The next portion will be up next Tuesday, Jan. 15.